Saturday parade kicks off Black History Month
East Caney to honor 24 during Feb. 18 African American Celebration
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Feb. 1, 2006 - February has long been designated a month to celebrate and recognize African Americans accomplishments and contributions in American history. 

This tribute to African Americans dates back to 1926 when Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves who dedicated his life to ensuring that black history was accurately documented, organized the first annual Negro History Week during the second week of February in honor of the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

The entire month of February is designated to honor to such individuals as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a crusader for civil rights; Rosa Parks who is billed as the “mother of the civil rights revolution”; and  Thurgood Marshall, whose civil rights activism ultimately lead to his appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court.

During Black History Month, topics such as segregation, slavery and racism are discussed in classrooms across the nation, and school children are introduced to important figures such as Frederick Douglass, who founded and edited the abolitionist publication “North Star” for 17 years, was secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission, marshal of and recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia, and minister to Haiti; Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad; Jackie Robinson, the first black to not only play Major League Baseball but also the first inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame; Condoleeza Rice, the first female black Secretary of State; and  Dr. Mae Jemison, first black female in space; to name a few.

East Caney Baptist Church, in its African American Celebration, brings that recognition a bit closer to home and, for the last 15 years sponsored an awards program honoring individuals who exhibit the spirit of King in January on the annual day designated to recognize the civil rights leader.

Saturday morning, the Annual Black History Parade included recipients and honorees from the Jan. 15 crystal MLK Jr. awards program as well as other recognition of the heritage and leaders. Entitle Celebrating Our Heritage,” the parade departed from the Cypress District Center on Como Street at 10 a.m. Saturday and concluded at the H.W. Grays Building in Pacific Park.

The church will  continue its month long tribute through Feb. 18, when it honors “24 of the most influential African Americans here in Hopkins County.” 

�Among the honorees at this year�s Feb. 18 celebration will are numerous church officials as well as past and present elected officials including Pastors Harold B. Nash and Troy Young; Brothers Harry Leon Lewis, Billy Petty and Aubrey Washington; Deacons J.D. Franklin, Dwight Clayton, Lonnie Ford and Wilbert Roland; Sisters Hillary Young, Silvesta Alexander, Gyeula Watson, Della Cleveland and Dorothy J. Thomas; Minister Valanderous Bell; Superintendent Nelson Gatlin; Missionary Teresa Nelson; the Rev. Milton Phifer; Mother Ophelia Evans; Sulphur Springs Independent School District trustee Carolyn Malone Thomas; Sulphur Springs City Council members Freddie Taylor and Yolonda Williams; former Hopkins County Sheriff Bill Dirks; and Ashley Porter.

Dr. Frank Ashley, dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Texas A&M University-Commerce, will be the keynote speaker for the African American Celebration which begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, in Cypress District Building.

East Caney Baptist Church invites the community to help share in the celebration and “honor those who have given so much to us” by attending the African American Celebration at the Como Street building Feb. 18.

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